- Film Guide
If you were lucky enough to catch Metropolis at MFF 2010, then my work here is already done. This year, the Alloy Orchestra are back with another silent classic and they will bring the house down yet again. On screen for this MFF 2012 Spotlight Presentation? Alfred Hitchcock’s silent classic Blackmail. For those of you who missed out on the best experience of that year's festival, let me explain a little further, and also give you a little taste of what you’ll be in for.
Boston's Alloy Orchestra is a three-man musical ensemble who, through a variety of different objects, create accompaniments to silent films that are equal parts propulsive and beautiful. They took what was already an immense theatrical experience (seeing Metropolis on the big screen is as awesome an experience as one can ask for) and made it that much more memorable by creating a soundtrack that matched the film’s scope and power stride for stride. But you don’t have to listen to me (you really don’t - here’s a pretty good video of a french bulldog trying to roll over), let these various quotes speak for the Alloy Orchestra*:
“...their dynaism galvanized an overflow audience into cheers.”
Kenneth Turan, Smithsonian Magazine
“...A once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
J. Hoberman, Village Voice
“If more silent movies had received a live accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra those new-fangled talkies might never have taken off.”
Bruce Stirling, The Dominion (New Zealand)
“The music helped convey that depth. It almost as if you needed the Alloy Orchestra to bang chamber pots for the true transcendence."
- Guy Maddin, at Eberfest
“...the best in the world at accompanying silent films.”
- Roger Ebert
So it’s not just me telling you these gentlemen are the real deal, it’s everyone who comes into contact with their spectacular one-of-a-kind screenings. That it’s paired with an early Hitchcock film surrounding a woman who killed in self defense and then is preyed upon by a blackmailer in the most beautiful theater in the entire midwest is what turns the experience transcendent. You haven’t seen a silent film truly come to life before your eyes until you’ve seen The Alloy Orchestra perform their aural alchemy and create cinematic magic. If you were there two years ago, your tickets are already bought, and if you haven’t I hope this did the trick. See you there.
*As a bonus, here’s a fantastic interview with Ken Winkour of the Alloy Orchestra from a few years back, hosted by Wisconsin’s own Rick Katschke
BLACKMAIL (WITH ALLOY ORCHESTRA) screens today (Monday), 7 PM at the Oriental Theatre. The Alloy Orchestra will be in attendance, providing live orchestral accompaniment for the film. Advanced tickets are no longer available online, but may be purchased at any film festival box office location.
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Tom Fuchs is returning for a third year as our featured festival blogger, telling you all about our daily festival picks. Tom has been on our shorts programming committee for all four years of the Milwaukee Film Festival.